Politics Sector News — 13 October 2014

A mental health group has raised concerns about a shortage of psychiatrists and psychologists in Tasmania, which has the second highest suicide rate in the country.

Gail Wilson said she had struggled for years to find adequate support for herself and her daughter, who has a mental illness.

“I feel like I am it, I am the only relationship that she had, and if I wasn’t there would be no one,” she said.

Ms Wilson believed the available services were not sufficient.

“I found myself in a lot of different places, and they had really nice posters around the wall saying ‘help’; there was so much help available, but that help never really came,” she said.

“It’s a national shame, I would imagine the numbers are so high, in part because the services, they don’t communicate, they aren’t easy to access,” she said.

Ms Wilson feared her daughter would become a statistic.

“I know that suicide is very high in Tassie and I think I know why, and I don’t want my daughter to be one of those statistics,” she said.

Ms Wilson said emergency services were the frontline for support.

“For my daughter it’s definitely police, ambulance and emergency centre staff… there is no other support,” she said.

Groups like Mental Health Carers Tas looked to support people in their time of need.

CEO Wendy Groot reflected on how services had changed over time.

“A few years ago people would ring and say their biggest problem was navigating their way through the system, now when they ring it’s more about that they can’t find the services,” she said.

She said there was a shortage of specialists, and that was amplified in regional areas.

“Yes there is a shortage of psychiatrists in Tasmania, particularly on the North-West Coast, to the last of my knowledge there isn’t actually a resident psychiatrist on the North-West coast,” she said.

Ms Groot said Tasmania faced larger challenges than the rest of the country.

“One of the issues is the size of our state, and the isolation that incurs, particularly on the North-West Coast,” she said.

The State Government was reviewing the delivery of mental health services.

This article first appeared on ‘ABC‘ on 12 October 2014.

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